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Philosophy of Management

Volume 6, Issue 1, 2007

Transforming Rationalities

Marja-Liisa Kakkuri-Knuuttila, Eero Vaara
Pages 81-98

Reconciling Opposites in Organisation Studies
An Aristotelian Approach to Modernism and Post-modernism

In view of the current fragmentation in management and organisation studies, we argue that there is a need to elaborate techniques that help reconcile contradictory and superficially incommensurable standpoints. For this purpose, we draw on ‘pre-modern’ Aristotelian epistemological and methodological sources, particularly the idea of ‘saving the appearances’ (SA), not previously introduced into organisation studies. Using SA as our starting point, we outline a methodology that helps to develop reasonable and acceptable intermediary positions in contemporary debates between ‘modernism’ and ‘post-modernism’. We illustrate the functioning of SA in the case of three issues in the philosophy of science where ‘modernist’ and ‘post-modernist’ scholars seem to have incommensurable standpoints: the nature of scientific knowledge; the conception of causality; and the epistemology of practice. We show in particular how to use the logics of ‘qualification’, ‘new conception’, and ‘complementary combination’ to form the basis for mediating positions which could then be accepted by less extreme proponents of both ‘modernism’ and ‘postmodernism’.

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